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  1. #1
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    A little more on finishing Walnut

    In another thread started back in early Feb, the subject of what finish works well with Walnut? That's a big question as you might guess but I think a little bit was ignored. IMHO. Finishing end tables was the goal and how best to get it done was the question.

    Several mentioned the use of de-waxed shellac as a seal coat and maybe as a final finish. Whenever shellac is mentioned as a finish for furniture the "shortfall of shellac" rears its head: beware of alcohol mishaps. Having used shellac and I might add the poor grades such as seedlac flakes, I too was concerned about alcohol damage to table tops. Folks the quality of the shellac makes a BIG difference.

    My early efforts to find a bullet proof and easy to apply finish lead me to use nitro-cellulose lacquer. Folks this is some good stuff. If you are just terrible at applying the finish with a good brush, you can use Pullover with a cloth and buff it to finish you won't believe. OK why go back to shellac? Something I like in my finish work was missing. Color.

    No one mentioned what certain types of shellac do to the walnut. Looking at the bench seats in the photos below you will see what a clear varnish with no shellac to seal it or tone to make it look a little "warmer" for lack of a better term. The seat panels below are finished with water-based poly in photo 1 and 2. Number 3 clear lacquer.

    Photo 4 would look much like photo 3 if finished with sprayed lacquer or waterbase varnish. Very clear and little "warmth" to the finish.

    Photo 5 shows the change in tone with just 2 coats of orange shellac. You can leave it there or put a varnish over it. Your choice.

    This was an easy process for me to experiment with the cabinet. I applied clear biege shellac, super blonde, orange, then garnetlac. All different. I liked the orange flakes combined with the garnet flakes from Vijay out in San Diego.

    I was tempted to put varnish over the shellac but I read a post here about another builder who has had great luck with a foam brush and applying shellac as the final topcoat. He was right on for ease of application and cost using a foam brush with shellac. I still use my natural bristle for most small jobs as I don't like throwing foam brushes in the trash after one use but for covering a large piece like the cabinet it is really effective.

    Another part of the thread was devoted to ways to deal with squeezed out glue and preventing it. I don't use any of those product(tape and waxlilt) as I don't use yellow glue for interior furniture. Hot hide is just so easy to clean and it takes stain, dye and finish without the ugly telltale signs of glue.

    For the fear of alcohol on shellac finishes I would urge you to find the video clip from Vijay Viji's DVD on shellac and myths. In the video he french polishes a cherry table top to a high luster finish. He then takes plumber's putty and builds a small circular dam about a 6-8" diameter. Fills it with water and leaves it for a good while. No damage at all. At another finishing seminar I attended a man took a big maple board brushed with several coats of dewaxed shellac and poured about a half cup of wine on the entire board.

    About an hour later there was a small white discoloration in part of the surface. Out came all the quiet "told you so types" and I shook my head too. Not good. Well the man took a moist not wet cotton cloth of denatured alcohol and wiped the board end to end once and said "give me 15 minutes" and we'll see. Not a trace of the discoloration or evidence of the wine spill.

    For kitchen tables, floors and heavy wear items, varnish is tough to beat. For shops that don't have spray booths and lots of dust around, shellac is a great option.



    From a taste point of view, I think walnut looks a little cold without some color added. This is taste.

    In my experience, I have seen no 2 items maligned more than shellac and hide glue. Don't take my word-- try some for yourself.



    photo 1


    photo 2


    photo 3


    photo 4




    photo 5


    6a




    photo 6b



    photo 7 orange shellac seal coat and rockhard varnish on top for kids table.

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  3. #2
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    Re: A little more on finishing Walnut

    Agreed! Dewaxed shellac (flakes or Zinsser SealCoat) and hide glue (flakes or liquid) are both maligned and poo-pooed as poor stuff to use.

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    Re: A little more on finishing Walnut

    Another quality I like about Shellac is that it diffuses light across the surface of a piece and so it makes a piece glow. This effect really draws the eye and makes the work stand out. A couple coats of Danish oil, 3 coats of Shellac and pastewax is my go to finish and it appears to be pretty durable.

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    Re: A little more on finishing Walnut

    Asking, when using the Mix..... Min Spirits, Tung Oil, Poly, I am guessing the Poly is Oil Base?

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    Re: A little more on finishing Walnut

    So Dan you are saying a "quality shellac" is good for an end table finish? From all the "myths out there, I would never have thought that! (many besides you have recommended Vijay Viji's products - http://www.shellacfinishes.com)

    I looked up Vijay Viji's video you mentioned: http://www.shellacfinishes.com/videos-2/
    That is pretty convincing!
    People are amazed as a shaving rises from the throat of a plane as if itís a spell plucked from a sorcererís hand Ė Paul Sellers

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    Re: A little more on finishing Walnut

    Quote Originally Posted by Hmerkle View Post
    So Dan you are saying a "quality shellac" is good for an end table finish? From all the "myths out there, I would never have thought that! (many besides you have recommended Vijay Viji's products - http://www.shellacfinishes.com)

    I looked up Vijay Viji's video you mentioned: http://www.shellacfinishes.com/videos-2/
    That is pretty convincing!
    Really the shellac story goes way back but Vijay came on the seen back in the mid 1990s or close. Many of the newer woodworkers were looking for a finish that didn't require a spray booth, was easy on the lungs, and it didn't need to be managed in a can that skinned over and became useless -- like many of my Waterlox cans back when.

    The linseed oil and tung oil popularity declined when the summer months came and the Japan drier still could not get it done for ages. Shellac. quick.

    I have written extensively in the past so I won't go on. If you want to explore the world of shellac, think beyond the can.

    Take a look at Vijay's assortment deals where he sends along 5 or so different flakes. The all impart a different tone to the wood.

    I used to go the oil than shellac schedule but find it has no use these days. You can achieve the same darker tone to walnut by putting in a touch of dye in the shellac. This is much easier to repair down the road.

    I don't know what Vijay is doing with the new stuff he is selling but it is like lacquer to me.

    For anything built for inside other than a table top for a kitchen or dining room I would not hesitate to use it.

    Remember, shellac comes in flakes and you can mix up what you need and store the flakes for later. Vijay dates his flakes for freshness. I have used older flakes with great results. The neat part of using flakes is knowing your shellac will not come back and bite you. You will know it good when you see how evenly and quickly it dissolves.

    good luck

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    Re: A little more on finishing Walnut

    O.K. teasing you on to share a little more of your experience...

    "If you want to explore the world of shellac, think beyond the can."
    Do you simply mean flakes here or something else?

    "I don't know what Vijay is doing with the new stuff he is selling but it is like lacquer to me."
    First, it is ALL "new stuff" to me - so talk a little more on what is "New stuff" to you... and specifically why it is like lacquer.

    "
    Remember, shellac comes in flakes and you can mix up what you need and store the flakes for later."
    What if you mix up too much, how long will it last?

    Also, if it has a shelf life, what is the best way to store it for the greatest longevity?

    "
    I have used older flakes with great results."
    What is the shelf life of the flakes?

    Again,
    what is the best way to store the flakes for the greatest longevity?
    People are amazed as a shaving rises from the throat of a plane as if itís a spell plucked from a sorcererís hand Ė Paul Sellers

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    Re: A little more on finishing Walnut

    Hank,

    Go here for a few answers to your more general questions.

    http://www.shellacfinishes.com/contact/

    Besides shellac flakes you can also get two pre-mixed varieties.

    1. Seal Lac is very similar to Zinsser SealCoat (both are dewaxed) and save you the "dissolving" the flakes step but they'll have a shelf-life date from manufacture. I can't find one for Seal Lac but Zinsser SealCoat is about 2 years.

    2.
    and specifically why it is like lacquer.


    The Royal Lac product is similar to Seal Lac but also contains a proprietary resin (about 10%) and a catalyst so it's a lot like post catalyzed lacquer.

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    Re: A little more on finishing Walnut

    Hank
    I have to ask you a question before I make a short response.

    What do you want to make that will employ shellac in any form?

    Let me know what you want to do with shellac and maybe I can be a little more focused. Shellac as a finish is widely discussed over the years here on the site and further covered all over the net.

    Like many things on the net, there are just tons of people talking about shellac that just don't have real experience.

    If you are around Durham some time, let me know. I will be happy to show you some things about this finish.

    later

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    Re: A little more on finishing Walnut

    I received this email response from Mr. Veljay yesterday. It's somewhat helpful and answers a few of the questions that I posed to him. I'm an organic chemist and also not a shellac novice so I'm not starting from scratch. BTW, I like Zinsser Seal Coat and will continue using it.

    Hi Jeff,
    If you have the ability of mixing shellac flakes to make your own mixture, I would recommend that you stay away from Zinsser Seal Coat. Just my two cents.
    The Seal-Lac cut is about 2.5lb. The shelf life is 2 years.
    Yes, Royal-Lac is a lacquer type finish in the sense that it can be classified as a thermoset finish. However it acts like a thermoplastic finish for about 2 weeks from the date of last application. After this as rate of crosslinking increases, it takes on the characteristics of a thermoset finish.
    I do not have any product literature as such, but if you see my videos, it explains what exactly it is.
    If you have specific questions, feel free to ask and I can go into details.
    Regards,
    Vijay

    Seal-Lac (2.5 # cut, 2 year shelf life) is a lot like Zinsser SealCoat but about 2x $/qt.

    Royal-Lac is available in 2 versions. Version 1 (Royal-Lac original) has a "proprietary" resin (10%) in addition to shellac and it may be a varnish type resin and doesn't require a catalyst for curing. Version 2 (Royal-Lac post catalyzed) doesn't contain the proprietary resin but needs a catalyst for activation which you add immediately before use. In that sense it's kind of like a catalyzed lacquer.





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    Re: A little more on finishing Walnut

    So a thought into the mix. I have in the past put a paste floor wax over a 1:1 bullseye waxedNA onto a shop bench and even a floor transition that has withstood some serious traffic. I personally love it as a finish. Is perhaps the floor wax unnecessary?

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    Re: A little more on finishing Walnut

    Quote Originally Posted by danmart77 View Post
    Hank
    I have to ask you a question before I make a short response.

    What do you want to make that will employ shellac in any form?

    Let me know what you want to do with shellac and maybe I can be a little more focused. Shellac as a finish is widely discussed over the years here on the site and further covered all over the net.

    Like many things on the net, there are just tons of people talking about shellac that just don't have real experience.

    If you are around Durham some time, let me know. I will be happy to show you some things about this finish.

    later
    Sorry,
    I missed your message -
    I was more educating myself with some of the information you offered than anything specific.
    It seems you are almost "advertising" this "the perfect" finish, unless you are making a kitchen table or a heavy use, potentially abused surface.

    When I did the kitchen table, I agaonized over what finish to use and if I should put down a seal coat.
    I always ask questions so when I am ready to finish in the future, I am "ready to go"

    As I have said in the past - I want to schedule some time when I am up your way!
    People are amazed as a shaving rises from the throat of a plane as if itís a spell plucked from a sorcererís hand Ė Paul Sellers

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